Grant Enfinger picked a good time to win his first race of the season.
Charging forward on new tires after the TSport 200 went overtime on Friday night, Enfinger pushed Zane Smith to the lead on lap 206 of 207 and won the first event in the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs.
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In the return of the series at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for the first time since 2011, Enfinger defeated runner-up Ben Rhodes by 0.477 at the finish line. Rhodes defeated Smith on the final lap to finish second.
With his first win since 2020 and the seventh of his career, Enfinger achieved automatic advancement to the second round of the playoffs after a regular season, including a stellar performance by his GMS Racing team and veteran crew chief Jeff saw a reunion with Hensley. 9 races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
It was Hensley who brought Enfinger to the pit road for a tire change after Carson Hosever knocked Colby Howard on the outside wall on lap 191 of the 200. That call proved decisive.
“We as an organization have closed down just a little bit,” Enfinger said. “We’ve been working so hard because we’re sucking. It hurts to say, but we’ve had a terrible season so far. But we had a great Chevrolet all day. It felt like every time we edged Come on, a caution came out, and it put Hensley in a bad position. I knew from experience to just trust his gut.”
Zane Smith finished third in an ending that was not without controversy. Entering the top seed of the playoffs, Smith had driven Chandler Smith into the outer wall earlier in the incident, damaging both trucks.
Zane Smith also suffered a loss in a three-truck incident involving Lawless Allen and Chase Purdy, but he brought his number 38 Ford to the pit road for new tires on lap 156 and the finish work on lap 40. did.
On the final restart on lap 206, Zane Smith pinched final 10th-place finisher John Hunter Nemechek into the outside wall and held the top spot until Enfinger made the winning pass.
However, it was Nemechek who sent the race to overtime when he spun race leader Taylor Gray into Turn 3 on lap 199 of a scheduled 200.
Nemechek insisted that the accident was unintentional.
“Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield, and tonight we were the bug,” said Nemechek, who led the race-high 75 laps and won the first stage. “I made a mistake early on and rolled myself, and on the old tyres we finally started there again.
“Everyone had new tyres. I tried to drive under (Turn) 3 under (Turn) 17 (Grey), and I just kept slipping and accidentally got into his left rear. I tried to stay away from him. That team has its own opinion, I have my own opinion, and I’m sure we’ll talk at some point.
Playoff driver Stewart Freesen finished fourth behind Zane Smith, followed by Corey Heim, Tyler Ankram and Layne Riggs making their debuts. Playoff drivers Ty Majewski, Matt Crafton and Nemechek completed the top 10.
Those results left Crafton and 16th-place finisher Christian Akes seven points below the current cut line. After the third race of the first round, the playoff ground will be reduced from 10 drivers to eight. Hosever is eighth in the standings, a good seven points.
The final race in the Round of 10 is Saturday, August 13 at Richmond Raceway (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Nemechek won in Richmond in 2021.
Note: Inspection completed without issue at the Truck Series garage confirms Enfinger as the race winner.
Contribution: Staff Report